Preparing for College

Is the TOEFL for Me?

Question: I was born in Japan, but I moved to America when I was six months old. I consider English to be my first language, although I am not an American citizen or permanent resident. Am I still viewed by colleges as an international student? If so, do I need to take the TOEFL?

No, you don't have to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Occasionally students in your situation will do so because they think that having a high score will work in their favor at admission-decision time. However, as you can imagine, admission officials simply ignore such results because they don't consider English to be a second language. Presumably, your SAT or ACT scores will show your proficiency in English, too.

You will, however, be considered an international student to the extent that--as a non-citizen or permanent resident--you will not qualify for Federal financial aid. If you do apply for financial aid, you will find that admission standards at many colleges will be far tougher for you than they are for "no-need" non-citizens.

On the other hand. although you have lived in the U.S. nearly all your life, many colleges that are seeking greater diversity will still give you at least a tiny "hook" in the admission process because they will "count" you as a Japanese student, even if you grew up eating more Big Macs than tekki-maki. :-)